Is democracy good for Egypt?

Hosni La Mubarak Fihi Pictures, Images and Photos

Egypt is among several Arab countries that are currently undergoing a series of protests by citizens fed up with their dictatorships. Virtually every Arab country is ruled by some sort of dictatorship or theocratic rule. Obviously, these countries allow for fewer rights and freedoms than the democracies people in the West live in. It also creates less dynamic and effective economies, which is really what started all these protests in the first place.

As a Westerner, we are taught that democracy is the best thing for any country. We are told that in a democracy, a citizen’s life will be best. For well informed and educated countries, this is true without a doubt. It is also the right thing to do from a moral point of view. However, the Arab world consists of a group of countries that have less accurate information, more state sponsored propaganda and less education. This creates a poorly informed electorate which has a slimmer chance of making a good choice in a free election.

Let’s look at Egypt as an example. Sure, the current leader of Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak is not good for all the citizens. Many, if not all have fewer freedoms than they should and the Egyptian economy is not very good. However, if you look at the likely alternative to Mubarak if the government is overthrown, most people in Egypt will quickly miss the current President. The extremist religious group, the Muslim Brotherhood would likely be in control and would enforce a strict religious law (Sharia law). This would likely reduce freedoms in Egypt, not increase them. They would also be even less friendly to non-Muslims in Egypt than the current regime which is about 10% of the country.

To the rest of the world outside of Egypt, toppling the current government would likely be terrible. Egypt has a peace agreement with its former foe, Israel. President Mubarak is committed to this agreement and this is good for the entire world, especially Egypt and Israel. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt they may not recognize this peace agreement with the Jewish state and this would be bad for the world, Israel and definitely Egypt. The Egyptian economy will not be any stronger because a country led by extremists is never good for any legitimate business. These are issues that most Egyptians may not understand as well as they would need to in order to make an informed election decision.

Although it goes against what we are taught in the West, hopefully Egypt will remain under President Mubarak’s rule for a while longer. I support democracy, but only when the electorate is properly educated and informed and right now the Egyptian people are not.